The ligninolytic fungi that cause white rot of wood have recently become the object of increasing attention from hazardous waste management specialists. The metabolic pathways that they employ for ligninolysis appear to have unusual xenobiotic capabilities, and there is some preliminary evidence that their extracellular lignin peroxidases, which normally catalyze the depolymerization of lignin, could bring about the initial oxidation of certain aromatic pollutants in vivo. However, it remains to be demonstrated that high levels of lignin peroxidase activity will necessarily lead to improved rates of pollutant degradation, or indeed that these enzymes are actually involved in any of the fungal xenobiotic oxidations that have been observed. To address these questions, the authors have begun a study of anthracene metabolism in the lignin degrader Phanerochaete chrysosporium: this simple model pollutant is quantitatively oxidized to anthraquinone by purified lignin peroxidases, is at least to some extent oxidized to the same quinone by whole fungal cultures, and is also mineralized at appreciable rates in vivo. The results point to a role for lignin peroxidases in organopollutant degradation by Phanerochaete, but more work is required to elucidate the pathways involved.